Victorian man arrested in connection to cryptocurrency-related drug syndicate

The 27 year-old has been charged with drug importation offenses, allegedly aided through the use of the 'dark net' and funded in part by cryptocurrency.

A 27 year-old man from Bulleen, Victoria, was arrested and charged, and the registrations of two cryptocurrency exchanges have been suspended following an organised crime investigation undertaken by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac).

The arrest of the man reportedly was made during the second phase of an AFP investigation.

As detailed by Austrac, the initial phase of the AFP investigation led to two men being charged for drug trafficking offences in October 2017, with the men allegedly importing border controlled drugs via international mail into Melbourne.

It was then on March 7, 2019, the AFP officers executed search warrants in the Melbourne suburbs of Bulleen, Templestowe Lower, and Malvern, seizing steroids, Australian currency, and "cryptocurrency-related items".

The 27 year-old was subsequently arrested and charged for allegedly importing, trafficking, and possessing a total of approximately 30 kilograms of drugs.

The maximum penalty for two of the offences he is charged with is life imprisonment.

It is believed police will allege in court that he "played a key role in directing the operations of the criminal syndicate, which used various dark net sites, bitcoin accounts, and legitimate business for the sourcing, payment, and distribution of the illicit drugs".

See also: Dark Web: A cheat sheet for business professionals (TechRepublic)

The AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) also sought the restraint of assets related to the investigation.

Austrac said orders were obtained from the County Court of Victoria to restrain property valued in excess of AU$2 million, which included several bank accounts, real estate properties, motor vehicles, a motorbike, cash, and cryptocurrency.

Following the arrest, Austrac said it suspended the registration of two digital currency exchange businesses where the man was a key member, removing their ability to continue to conduct business.

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